The Cheerleaders is a Rollercoaster

So I read the Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas. This book was all over the place. [Fair warning: This post is full of spoilers.] It started off very strong. The opening two sentences are amazing:

This house was made for someone without a soul. So I guess it makes sense that my mother wanted it so badly.

Immediately set the tone. We have a strong, intelligent, very dramatic teenage protagonist. We discover quite quickly that Monica (which for some reason doesn’t sound like a real teenager’s name, in present day, to me) made some stupid decisions over the summer, got knocked up, and is physically reeling from the abortion she has instigated via pills.

So to take her mind off of her physical pain, she begins digging into the seemingly too-coincidental deaths of 5 cheerleaders that happened within a few months of each other 5 years ago. One of the rah-rahs was her sister. Oh, and maybe she made poor decisions over the summer to try to poke through the numb veneer that has covered her soul since her sister’s death. Or maybe she’s just a melodramatic fucking teenager who prefers to delve into a dark web of potential conspiracy rather than face the fact that her sister committed suicide.

Cheerleaders. Conspiracies. Convenient Deaths.

Sounds pretty good so far, right?

Of course, the problem with an unintentional roller coaster is that although you clink to a great height up, there are dips that can take you just as far down ahead.

First, there is the fact that Monica is not very good at using her intelligence. She breaks into her stepfather’s locked desk drawer, and only afterward is like, “Oh, wait! He’s going to realize it used to be locked and now it’s… not.” How was that not something she considered as she peeled apart paper clips? Also, there’s the fact that her stepfather is a police officer. I just think someone would generally know how to be sneakier if she had a police officer for a stepfather.

#ennui

Or there’s a whole section of the book where she makes a total leap in logic, assuming she knows who wrote certain notes and she knows what they mean, and I was rolling my eyes so hard, thinking I see this twist that is coming, Ms. Thomas. And then… it turns out Monica’s right. Which was even worse.

Then, there are the randomly disconcerting bits that seem like the book just didn’t have a very good editor. For example, on page 150, there is this little exchange:

‘That’s crap,’ she finally says.

It’s the first I’ve heard Ginny curse and it’s like a jolt to my brain, waking me up.

This section completely pulled me out of the story. Is there a high school student out there who considers “crap” cursing? Because, like… it’s not. We all know the curse equivalent is shit. And frankly, even that is not much of a curse-word. I would probably be more “jolted” to hear a high school girl using “excrement” instead of a curse-word. But “crap…?” Pretty lame. If you’re going to curse, fucking curse.

#letzbeereal #wordsofwisdom

Or there’s this nugget of idiocy near the end of the novel. I literally had to read it like 10 times, wondering if I was just blind or just completely misremembering. But Monica says:

I read it again to make sure I have it right. Ginny said her father left on October 18, a full three days before this report says he was last seen.

The “report” (which is actually an e-mail written by a reporter of a National Enquirer-ish paper) says:

Anyway, the motion to have Phil declared dead states that the last time his wife saw him was the morning of October 27.

October 18th is 9 days from October 27, not 3. I checked my math with Excel and everything. Maybe it used to be 3? Or used to be 9? And the length was changed for added drama or something but only in one spot? It’s such an odd, glaring error to not be caught, though.

The worst, though, is definitely the ending. It’s a confrontation scene, where Monica has finally figured out what the reader has known for about half of the damn book, and decides to get the killer soliloquizing. First, though, she is interrupted by her younger brother, and she gets through to the killer by saying, he’s “not a kid killer.” Except that the whole thing is that he killed a 15-year-old, because she wanted to be his girlfriend and not just a warm, young receptacle for his sperm. And he claims he didn’t mean to do it, but he still killed her, and her friend. So this guy who is “not a kid killer” has, in fact, killed two girls. And Monica later taunts him by calling him a pedophile – which is accurate, but also supports the idea that he’s a kid killer…

In short, excellent beginning, murky middle, terrible ending, and mediocre editing. I… do not recommend.

Nice Try, Netflix: Enola Holmes

I knew, going into watching Enola Holmes that it probably wasn’t going to be very good. But I shrugged, and though, “Huh. Maybe it will be fine. I can at least give the pilot a chance.” I have no idea how I got the idea it was a TV show, but I was expecting a series with the mystery of the disappearing mother being a long thread tantalizingly teased throughout, and a smaller mystery solved each week. So I was wrong – I mean, I guess it was “fine,” if you believe in disrupting characters to the point that those characters are no longer themselves, and like to watch 16-year-olds barely survive in a dangerous city because you know how annoying teenagers are – of course, everyone is out to kill them. Oh, also – it’s not a TV Show (again, I have no idea how that idea weaved itself into my mind…).

Enola Holmes, which I keep wanting to turn into Enola Hughes because apparently my brain isn’t working today, has a great cast and a large budget, but sucks more than the psychic vampire siphoning off my energy and ability to think clearly today. In fact, Enola Hughes would be a more fitting name for both this movie and it’s main character, because there is no point in making a movie about the Holmes’ family if you’re going to change the characters of both Sherlock and Mycroft beyond recognition.

I think it means well. It’s like, “People love Sherlock, but do we really need another story about this rich white dude who’s just really good at solving mysteries? After all, rich white girls can be good at solving mysteries, too, as Veronica Mars showed us. AND that will mean we can give this film a feminist slant, which educated people in the crumbling facades of democracy that constitute former powerhouses America and England seem into.” For those of you who have noted that:

  1. Sherlock was not, initially rich, which was part of the reason he needed a roommate (hello, Dr. Watson!) until he became rich and famous by solving mysteries;
  2. Veronica Mars was also not rich, in fact a large part of that television series was about the struggle for power and respect in a city with stark divides between the have and have-nots, and V and her pops definitely fell into the “have-nots” category. (In fact, how she was able to afford her bitchin’ camera, completely new wardrobe, regularly maintained coif, and technology gadgets is a mystery of its’ own that will never be solved…);
  3. My faux quote ends in a preposition –

Well done. You are worthy of reading my blog. I did those things on purpose to see if you were paying attention, and you will probably not much like Enola Holmes.

For those of you who did not, you’re not being very observant and/or did not imbibe the same media as me, so sit in the corner with your conical hat, and think about the fact that you might, in fact, like Enola Holmes. The movie is made to appeal to sheep, of which you may be one. You should feel bad about that, and you should engage in some serious self-reflection to try to avoid saying “baa” all the time in the future.

Enola Holmes is basically a re-make of 16 Candles with Bellatrix Lestrange as the purposeful mother, a very watered-down Jake who everyone is trying to kill, and the successful murder of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes. As anyone who has read the stories is aware:

Mycroft is not a pompous, blustering idiot. Mycroft is more intelligent than Sherlock. He is also much, much lazier.

And Sherlock Holmes is not a handsome devil lackadaisically solving mysteries, maybe, if he feels like it. Sherlock Holmes is weird. He’s very passionate and high energy when he’s working on a mystery, which he works at with a focus that is possibly psychotic. And when he doesn’t have anything to keep him manic (i.e., another mystery to solve), he is melting into his couch because he’s coming down from his cocaine high, which as anyone who has ever listened to The Weekend knows, means that he is fucking depressed as shit.

Millie Bobby Brown is very pretty, and gives a decent performance as an intelligent woman capable of solving crimes and finding her own way in the world with the myriad of English pounds left to her by her mother. She’s less believable as someone who is naive and uses the word “nincompoop” more than once. And her scattered glances at the audience to break the Fourth Wall feel like a failed attempt to replicate the smart, well-loved performance given by Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Fleabag, wherein PWB’s asides to the audience seemingly effortlessly convey meaning to the audience in what is ultimately a sign of her mental breakdown.

If Enola Holmes wasn’t trying to insult the viewer’s intelligence by pulling people in with reference to a well-loved and established fictional character by changing all resemblance to that character, I probably wouldn’t take too much issue with it. In fact, I might even like it. As it is, however, the movie did fail me – first, by not being a television show (which, again, sounds much more likable, because – weekly mysteries done well are always fun to watch), second, by altering those well-established characters in a way that was neither interesting nor thought-provoking and really blatantly point out that the movie should just not in any way even try to affiliate with the beloved characters of Sir Doyle, and would have fared better as the screenwriter’s own flawed creations.

Nice try, Netflix, but fucking do better next time.

Fucking Xmas Commercials: Macy’s Likes Stranger Danger

Have you seen it yet? That commercial that Macy’s pretends is to be uplifting and “in the holiday spirit” that’s actually just… very odd, and probably trying to outdo the now-defunct Montgomery Ward’s red-nosed reindeer?

It begins with a girl who has a dream. You know how girls are – always wanting to be fucking Santa Claus. Because children don’t all, in their heart of hearts, really want to be amongst the recipients of presents. Because children aren’t, deep down, pretty much the psychopathic toddlers that used their parents as teether toys, shellacked with a thin veneer of propriety and good manners, using their wits and charm to get what they want.

And we’re supposed to feel sorry for her, because her peer group laughs at her. How dare they not support her dream of becoming a portly older gentleman who breaks into the home of strangers unannounced to leave them evidence of the type of person he deems them to be? Like, who doesn’t want to be observed by an unknown, unseen person and then receive gifts from them? It always seems to work out so well for celebrities, right? Just because this girl wants to become your stalker, and comes to school with a padded faux-pregnancy belly, and you’re a hormonal asshole of a middle schooler, you think it’s okay to mock her? Shame on you, middle school kids. This isn’t a sitcom, this is a fucking heartwarming commercial, and YOU ARE RUINING IT.

But, like, it’s okay. Luckily, this girl’s parents are rich and/or racking up credit card debt. They wrap their gas-guzzling truck with a myriad of tiny colored lights, and enable their daughter’s social ineptitude by playing along and asking “Santa” to hop in and bribe her classmates into pretending she’s not super weird. She gets a nod from a kid who can deign to be polite since none of his friends are around, and probably feels like she’s being a good person, when really, she should probably be in therapy.

Like… wtf, Macy’s?